By Christine Steele
I once thought cosmetic treatments were just for celebrities and the rich and famous. Then, as I became a woman of a “certain age" and experienced a trying few years, I began to see the effects of those years etched on my face. Deep creases had formed at the corners of my mouth. “Marionette lines,” I learned they were called.
The creases along the sides of my nose (a hereditary feature my father referred to as “the Douglas nose”) had also deepened. Called nasolabial folds, they sit directly above the Marionette lines. Together, the two sets of lines had the effect of pulling my face down, turning my resting face into a frown.
I also had the tiny vertical lines above my lip (”monkey lines,” my lifelong smoker mother calls them) from when I smoked decades ago when I didn’t know better.
A cosmetic procedure was never something I imagined myself having. Not only was it never in my budget, I actually liked my face. But as life delivered a few hard blows one after another after I hit 50, I felt like I was revisiting the sadness of those past few years every time I looked in the mirror.
I didn't want to not look like me; I just didn't want to look in the mirror and see sadness.
I didn’t want to look like someone who “had some work done,” as we used to say.
I researched a variety of treatment options and medical spas and made an appointment for a consultation at one I found had solid reviews and years of experience.
Once in the office, I discovered that most of what I thought about cosmetic procedures was wrong. It isn’t just for the rich and famous. You don't have to be a celebrity, or want to look like one to benefit from a cosmetic procedure. On the walls were before and after photos of everyday women like me. Some with scars they wanted to lessen the appearance of, birthmarks, age spots, or lines they wanted to smooth out, tiny imperfections they wanted to erase.
I also discovered that in my mid-50s, I was actually late in life to be getting a cosmetic treatment for the first time. Many women start in their 30s, or even 20s, for “pre-juvenation.”
I also learned that it’s not all “nip and tuck.” Sometimes, a little “plump and smooth” is all you need. With so many noninvasive options, it wasn’t as scary as a surgical procedure.
I also discovered that some of the treatment options were more affordable than I once thought. So, why not invest in myself? If it was something that was going to make me feel better about myself every time I looked in the mirror, why not? This study by the National Library of Medicine looked at the satisfaction levels of general aesthetic patients and found that they experienced a boost in self image, self esteem, and improved quality of life.
And the effects last longer than a temporary feel-good fix like a pedicure, massage, or even a facial. I wasn’t looking to change my entire appearance, but if I could give my looks a little boost, it might have a ripple effect and give my self confidence a boost, too.
I don’t think of these treatments as a cure-all, but as an optional addition to include while on my self-improvement journey.
So, here’s my Botox journal:
9:30 a.m. Day 1:
The needles were tiny and didn’t hurt at all. The doctor gave me a small ice pack to numb the area before the shot. I think I only felt one or two.
I ended up getting 600 units:
- 10 units in my forehead for the faint horizontal lines
- 15 units in between my brows for my “eleven” -- the two lines that appear when you knit your brows together
- 10 units each at the corner of each eye for the crows feet
- 2 units in my upper lip for the vertical lines above my lip
- 5 units at each corner of my mouth for the Marionette/frown lines
- 8 units in my chin for the dimples and divots under my chin
1 to 2 days after Botox:
My face felt the same until the next day. I felt a little tingling in spots and there were a few tiny red dots from the needles (easily covered with makeup), slight bruising at the corner of one eyebrow (also covered with makeup).
My top lip feels swollen and “bee stung” and looks a little puffy. I had a very thin top lip so I was hoping this treatment would fill it out a little. My lip lines appear slightly filled out although still noticeable, but not as many, and my cheeks appear a little fuller.
3 days after Botox:
My forehead looks smoother, and I can no longer knit my eyebrows together. I can raise them but not knit them.
My upper lip has felt weird and some of the swelling and lumpiness has gone away. It still feels bee-stung, but doesn’t have that ski jump look my friend dislikes! I bought two new tubes of lipstick and love the look of my lips when I put it on. I have an upper lip now! It’s not a thin line and not too big. We’ll see if it gets bigger in the next two weeks.
The lines above my lip are smaller but the Marionette lines remain the same, as do those dreaded nasolabial folds. But something else has happened. I look in the mirror and don’t see sadness. The frown seems to have left my resting face. Granted, I can’t move much of my face, but I do look happier!
5 days after Botox
My upper lip feels numb and weird and I feel like I’m lisping but my friend said I sound the same and my lip lines are gone. I still see them when I look in the mirror but from a few feet away they are not as noticeable as before. The bags under my eyes have definitely filled in some and I don’t look as tired as I used to. My chin feels weird and I still have the tightness in my forehead. You can see a hint of the eleven—the two lines between my brows—but my eyes look more open and I look more refreshed and—dare I say it—more youthful even.
Yes, the Marionette lines are still there and those are the lines I dislike the most. They seem a bit less pronounced but when I pull my face back at my temples they disappear, as do the nasolabial folds. I’m thinking Juvederm in those two places plus under my eyes to fill in the bags will really make a difference. I do hope the numbness of my top lip goes away in the next week or so.
3 weeks after Botox:
They say it takes two weeks for the Botox to settle on your face. By the time those two weeks were up, all the numbness and tightness had dissipated and my face felt normal. My upper lip was plump enough to have a shape and I was enjoying wearing lipstick again. No one stopped me on the street and gasped, “What did you do to your face?!”
I didn’t look that different. I still had lip lines, lines around my mouth and next to my nose. But when I looked in the mirror, now all I saw looking back at me was me! No more sad clown resting face—even first thing in the morning. It erased 5 years of sadness, and I rediscovered my smile.
Do’s and Don’ts following Botox treatments:
- Do use the muscles injected frequently for one hour following treatment to help move the Botox into the muscle.
- Don’t wear a hat or lay flat for four hours following treatment.
- Don’t strain, lift heavy objects, or engage in vigorous exercise for 6 hours following treatment.
- Don’t touch or manipulate the areas following treatments.
And it's not too late to freshen up your appearance in time for the holidays! Schedule a free consultation with one of our providers today!